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130                                   VERDICT  OX INDIA
chasing the slippery line of a melody which was as elusive as an eel.
It was hot, dusty work, and the Lord Chamberlain did not look
as though he approved of it at all.
At the end of half an hour, a halt was called in order to study the
notes on the manuscript paper. There was silence, excepting for
the panting of the musicians, so that it was possible for the first
time to get a clear idea of what had been going on. And—accord-
ing to the manuscript—what had been going on was sheer chaos ;
it was like the gibberings of a lunatic. The rhythms were jumbled
in hopeless confusion ; as for the melodic lines, if a blind man had
dotted the paper at random the result would have beeix equally
\\ ith one exception. The Ancient, who was sustaining the chief
role, had been roaring away throughout the entire piece; and
from the manuscript it appeared that there had been a certain
method in his madness. His melodic lines had something of the
same shape—it was a very ugly shape, but at least something
which could be dignified by the term of 'form.*
If we could isolate the Ancient ? Detach him from the throb of
the drums and the wail of the Thumbooris, so that he was revealed
in all his naked horror? It would be akrming, but it might
result in a revelation.
The request was made. * Would this gentleman be so very kind
as to sing for us again ?'
The Ancient's eyes glittered, he opened his mouth in savage
*Only a few bars/ I interposed hastily. *The opening phrases
of the piece which has just finished.*
The Chamberlain nodded; the Ancient gulped and began. It
was now possible to transcribe the notes with some degree of
accuracy. It was a wandering, indeterminate wail in a ragged
five-eight time.
I held up my hand; the Ancient reluctantly trailed off into
4 Now, if it would not be too much trouble, could he sing that
trHie same song ?'
* If you please.'